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4th of July Songs of Patriotism

Updated on June 17, 2014

Long may it wave....

And it still waves over this land of the free and America's home of the brave.
And it still waves over this land of the free and America's home of the brave. | Source

Songs you may be singing this 4th of July:

Almighty Father, Strong To Save

America The Beautiful

The Battle Hymn of The Republic

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor

God Bless America

My Country 'Tis of Thee

The Star Spangled Banner

This Is My Country

This Land Is Your Land

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Backgrounds for the patriotic songs you may be listening to or singing this 4th of July:

Almighty Father, Strong To Save

Music by John B. Dykes in 1861

Lyrics for the original two verses by William Whiting in 1860

Added Lyrics for the third and fourth verses by Robert N. Spencer in 1937

This hymn, sometimes referred to as "The Navy Hymn" in America, now has many different variations of verses such as those for various branches of the military here and in the United Kingdom.

The addition of two more verses in 1937 was to recognize a role for faith not only at sea, but also on land and in the air. (For these variations, a copy of the music, and more on the history of the many notable occasions when it has been sung and played, the reader is referred to Wikipedia, the free online information source.)

America The Beautiful

Music by Samuel A. Ward in 1882

Lyrics by Professor Katherine L. Bates begun in 1893

From the top of Pike's Peak in the summertime, Professor Bates gazed out at a remarkable view of a portion of America stretched out beneath her under a blue sky. The wagon climb to the top on that day has given the United States of America a patriotic hymn considered by many to be second only to its national anthem.

In just three verses this professor of English at Wellesley College captured the beauty, heritage, and promise of America.

Choosing the music of American organist/composer Samuel Ward's hymn "Materna," Professor Bates completed this hymn which has been universally loved and sung by Americans ever since it was first published in 1910, seven years after Samuel Ward died.

The Battle Hymn Of The Republic

Music from a Methodist folk hymn "John Brown's Song" of 1856

Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe in 1861

If, as I do, you find biographies of famous people well worth study, or at least casual reading, you could easily become immersed in any of a number of biographies of Julia Ward Howe. Today such biographies are instantly available by doing a search of the worldwide web, and I recommend you come to know her better. You will not be disappointed.

Julia had visited an Army encampment near Washington, DC in 1861. She likely heard soldiers singing their own raucous versions of "John Brown's Song." Her husband Samuel Howe had fled to Canada rather than be accused as a collaborator of John Brown and Brown's attempt at revolution, so the song and its cadence had stuck in her mind as she retired to the Willard Hotel that evening. Unable to fall asleep, she came up with the now famous lines to this hymn which established her fame and characterized her strident preaching.

You will find this self-educated woman to be a woman for the ages. As a descendant of Roger Williams and Francis Marion, a mother of seven and fluent in seven languages, a correspondent and friend of so many of the notable figures of her day, she seems destined to have written her famous, and stirring lyrics.

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor

Music by Irving Berlin in 1949

Lyrics drawn from the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus in 1883

Emma Lazarus was raised as a Sephardim Jew and recognized for the quality of her poetry from its earliest publication.

With the announcement by France that it would be donating what became the Statue of Liberty as its tribute to America's 100th Birthday, preparations began to raise money for its display. Those preparations became the subject for Irving Berlin's hit musical "Miss Liberty."

"Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" was the closing song for the musical with the words being those from Emma Lazarus' poem inscribed at the base of the statue.

Irving Berlin, the composer of other patriotic songs on our list, was himself a Jewish immigrant from Belarus arriving in America at age five with his name Israel Isidore Berlin.

Irving Berlin began his musical career early. He sang on the streets for pennies. He learned the piano well enough to compose (and how!), and he was too poor, with the death of his father when he was only 13, to ever receive a formal education.

He is the quintessential American success story so well described by the promise in Emma Lazarus' words.

God Bless America

Music by Irving Berlin in 1938

Lyrics by Irving Berlin

Thirty years after "God Bless America" was first sung to America by singer Kate Smith, Irving Berlin highlighted his 75 years in America by singing it himself at his televised 80th birthday party.

Berlin had said of this song: "I came here [to America] as an immigrant from Russia in 1893, and whatever success I have had as a songwriter I owe to this country."

On another occasion he said: "I've tried to express my feelings in 'God Bless America,' a song which is not alone a song, but an expression of my gratitude to the country that inspired it."

Over the years, many Americans have urged that "God Bless America" deserves to be their new national anthem, in part because it is easier to sing than the high notes of the present national anthem. Its detractors often stress the separation of church and state as its disqualification, though "The Star-Spangled Banner" contains America's still surviving phrase "And this be our motto 'In God is our trust!'"

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Music ftrom the Thesaurus Musicus 1744

Lyrics by Samuel F. Smith in 1831

Originally entitled "America," few Americans know more than the first verse by Samuel F. Smith who was a Baptist minister graduated from Harvard and Andover Theological Seminary. Rev. Smith was a friend and classmate of Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the verses Rev. Smith wrote place an emphasis on education and the often quoted Bible verse "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

As the other verses are so little known, it is worth quoting the final three of its eight verses here:

"Thy safeguard, Liberty,
The school shall ever be,
Our Nation's pride!
No tyrant hand shall smite,
While with encircling might
All here are taught the Right
With Truth allied.

Beneath Heaven's gracious will
The stars of progress still
Our course do sway;
In unity sublime
To broader heights we climb,
Triumphant over Time,
God speeds our way!

Grand birthright of our sires,
Our altars and our fires
Keep we still pure!
Our starry flag unfurled,
The hope of all the world,
In peace and light impearled,
God hold secure!"

The Star Spangled Banner

Music by John Stafford Smith in 1799

Lyrics by Francis Scott Key in 1814

We might presume that America's national anthem has held that honored distinction ever since Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics in 1814, but that is not the case. His lyrics and his choice for their matching music only became America's national anthem by a vote of Congress signed by President Herbert Hoover in 1931.

1931 was the same year in which American purchases and investments in Europe declined so sharply that Europe took steps which effectively shattered the existing system of international exchange and accelerated the world's plunge into the Great Depression.

While its first verse is so commonly sung at public events today, most Americans have little knowledge of the beauty and inspiration contained in its other verses.

The year 2014 is the 200th anniversary of its lyrics and it seems fitting that Americans might celebrate the milestone by reading, even learning, its other verses.

This Is My Country

Music and lyrics by Don Raye and Al Jacobs introduced in 1940

As the world plunged deeper into what was to become World War II, this song of just one verse was a rallying song which put patriotism and love of country on a pedestal.

While it features the phrases "Land of my birth....Grandest on earth" (at seeming contrast to today's discussions of illegal immigration and frustrations over prevailing divisions in America's body politic) it was a song for its time....a time which gave us the just celebrated "Greatest Generation" of Americans.

This Land Is Your Land

Music and lyrics by Woody Guthrie published in 1956

Woody Guthrie, another personality well worth discovering, created this song which has become another in the long line of spirited patriotic songs, reflecting as it does so well his own love of America.

Its three verses and repeating chorus are a tour of America through Woody's eyes and his memory of his travels at a time when America was caught in the desperation of the Great Depression. It too has its own religious aspect in its repeated phrase that "This land was made for you and me."

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Music a traditional ballad tune popular by the late 1700s

Lyrics made up by both sides in the Revolutionary War

We don't think of Yankee Doodle Dandy as being one of America's national anthems to rival The Star spangled Banner, My Country 'Tis Of Thee, or God Bless America, but during America's Revolutionary War and for decades afterwards Yankee Doodle Dandy was America's unofficial national anthem.

It grew rapidly in popularity when Americans turned the tables on King George III and his troops and mercenaries trying to quell the revolution.

The song was originally sung by the British in derision of "the colonials" as doodles, a derisive term meant to describe the colonists as an uneducated mob not worthy of anyone's respect, that day's equivalent of today's derogatory use of the term "hill billys."

The Americans soon adopted the tune with their own verses which took pride in being the country bumpkins who defeated the British and won their independence.

Thinking back to those early days of our republic is easily done by singing the well-known verse and researching a few of the others listed by the Library of Congress and easily found on the web.

What better way to celebrate Independence Day and carry our thoughts back to the sacrifices Americans of that day made to create the freedoms we enjoy today?


Copyright 2014 Demas W. Jasper all rights reserved.

Not just purple mountains majesty.....

There is majesty in our snow capped mountains.
There is majesty in our snow capped mountains. | Source
America, and its homes, schools, and churches, is still a beacon to those who yearn for what Americans already have; not just its wealth, but its spirit and that spirit's willingness to sacrifice for what is right and true.
America, and its homes, schools, and churches, is still a beacon to those who yearn for what Americans already have; not just its wealth, but its spirit and that spirit's willingness to sacrifice for what is right and true. | Source

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    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 10 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      I feel these songs are devinely inspired and do capture the beauty and sacredness of this great nation. Thank you for your friendship and goodness my friend.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Shyron E Shenko - Written tongue in cheek: It's never too late to read deathless prose. It is nice to know more of the songs' backgrounds.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Sorry I missed this one Perspycacious, better late, as the saying goes.

      I love all these songs.

      Voted up ++++ and shared



    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      The anniversary is getting closer. Pray we can always be justly proud of the American nation. It takes each of us doing our part and doing it well.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      These songs are the backbone of this country, a great reminder for one and all. Kudos to you and a well deserved awesome and up!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      A great opportunity to hob nob with the other ex-pats. Enjoy and be safe.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Yes, long may our flag wave. My two all time favorites are The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Looking forward to the U.S. Embassy 4th of July picnic here as every year. Makes me feel good just attending. Passing this on.


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